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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

The Twilight Saga: Twilight

Okay, this is it everybody. It's time.

I just finished watching Twilight with my wife. Full disclosure, I've read all of the Twilight books and enjoyed them for what they were, a vapid romance about teenagers and one of them happens to be a vampire. I've only ever seen the first movie before now, so partly out of curiosity, and partly because I figured it'd be fun to do a review of all the movies, I've finally decided I'm going to sit down and try to watch all of the Twilight films.

Now, I could repeat the same arguments about how terrible this movie is that you've all heard a thousand times, but that would be easy and I hate life so instead I'm going to do something different. Taking a nod from Maven of the Eventide, I'm going to try and find some good in this movie. Why? Because if you want to have people rip on twilight, you can go just about anywhere. I mean, it's a bad movie. There's no disputing that, but given what they had to work with it's not surprising. The books were bad even though they were an easy read, so the actors, screenwriter, and director only had so much they could do to try and salvage it. Although, the more I keep hearing about the original twilight adaptation the more I wish I had been sitting there watching that movie instead of what we got.

Still, there were a few good points in this movie. I really thought the music was done well in this film, and there are definitely some points in the score that I really enjoy, even if the Muse song in the baseball scene is kind of annoying. I also thought the few moments where the character Alice, played by Ashley Greene, was on screen were always fun. Particularly, I enjoyed the scene in the ballet studio where Alice gets some of Bella's blood on her hands and she has a little moment where she looks like she's about to chow down for some cardboard stew. There's a reason why Alice is listed as one of Maven's best female vampires, and that little character moment is one of them. Alice is one of my favorite characters in the books, so I'm looking forward to where they take her.

But lets be honest. Did I enjoy this movie?

Well, yeah. It's silly, and there's some utterly ridiculous moments in it. It's good for a lark, and is a bit of silly fun. The only thing that really pains me about it is that there was some real potential for some wonderful subplots that get ignored. I'd love to see how Bella's relationship with her father develops, or see more Alice. Actually, I'd take more Alice just for anything. She's a blast, and one of the only characters who has any real depth to her, despite having almost no screen time in this first film.

Anyways, tune in next time for New Moon!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

The World's End, directed by Edgar Wright

The third film in the so-named "Cornetto Trilogy", with the other two being Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, The World's End is a fun film, but not without it's flaws.

It has the same fun tone as the previous two films, with what I feel is strong cinematography, fun references to ongoing, and enough changes that people who have see Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead will be able to appreciate them.

One of the biggest changes is the switch between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's characters. Where Simon Pegg normally plays the no-nonsense straight man, in this movie that role is taken on by Nick Frost, with Pegg playing a man-child who can't let go of his teen years, and whose been going through some rough times, and Frost plays his former best friend and the two have had a falling out.

My biggest problem with this movie is that it feels like two movies, and each film could have been strong on its own, but being put together they fall kind of weak. The first film is about a man who is trying to recapture his teen years, and bringing his band back together for one last hurrah. The other is a film about a small rural town in England being silently invaded by robotic replicants. While Wright does a good job of keeping the tone of the film steady, it doesn't make the shift between the two acts any less jarring or feel any less forced. Despite the jarring shift, however, the film does a fairly good job of keeping the ball rolling up until the weak climax of the film, which was a disappointment for me as I've thoroughly enjoyed both of the other entries in the trilogy. I won't spoil anything, but if you've seen the movie you no doubt know exactly what I mean about the climax of the film.

That said, it's a good movie to see on the big screen and I strongly encourage everyone to go and see it. If nothing else, the acting and the action sequences alone make the film worth seeing.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Andre van Heerden's Deceived (Not that you know who that is...)

So, just watched Deceived by Cloud 10 pictures (the people who made Left Behind). Well, it wasn't... great. Wasn't exactly bad either. 

I don't mind films with religious storylines at all, and if done right these movies can be really good. But this film crosses the line from a compelling story about a person whose lost his faith and then finds it again, to a film that is preachy and overbearing.

The movie is made-for-TV quality and seems like something that would get broadcast on the Christian Life Network or some sort of evangelical Christian version of Space. That said, it wasn't that bad. Honestly if they just cut down the diatribes and showed us way more than just spilled exposition all over our laps, it wouldn't have been a half bad sci-fi story with some religious underpinnings. The main problems come from the complete lack of characterization for the supporting cast, making their eventual possessions much less noticeable. We don't really get a chance to know much about them before they turn 'evil', so it becomes tough to really understand what the big change was.

Judd Nelson saves this film. He plays the main character, a technician named Jack, and he's the only one who really sells his character. The other actors were definitely trying, they just lacked Judd's skill. My biggest issue was not in how Jack was played, but in how everyone talks about Jack as being a "geek" and unattractive. This was made in 2002, people, geeks weren't that uncommon back then! Also, I don't care how geeky he is, Jack was not an unattractive character!

If you recognize the name Judd Nelson, that's because this is the guy who played John Bender in the Breakfast Club in 1985, and he was also in St. Elmo's Fire. 

Overall? It had flaws, definitely. But if you can find it for cheap somewhere, might be worth picking up for a corny movie night.

James Wan's The Conjuring

If you like horror movies, especially the old haunted house style films of the 1970s, you'll love this film. The director wasn't afraid to linger on the ghosts and the demons, and there aren't any fake-out scares in this film. No cats jumping out of shadows, no birds squawking accompanied by an orchestral sting. When the music and the scene is building up suspense, it's because something is about to genuinely happen. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck pricking up. Beautiful direction, and the lighting was fantastic. It was never so dark that you couldn't tell what was going on, and even when scenes were completely lit, they managed to give them a feeling of claustrophobia that built up the terror.

The acting was brilliant, especially the children who really sold just how terrified they were of what was going on. In particular, there's a scene where one of the girls is staring at a space behind the door. Even though we the viewers couldn't see or here anything, the abject terror on her face and the wonderful lighting freaked me right out. I kept expecting to see something, but the director wouldn't dare give us that satisfaction. When her sister is standing in the shadow, and the girl says "Oh my God, it's right behind you!" I just about peed myself.

Better yet, the movie has a resolved ending instead of leaving us with a pointless cliffhanger. This is a horror film that doesn't need a sequel. It stands alone on it's own merits, and boy howdy does is do an awesome job of that.